Bangladeshis celebrate all religious holidays with equal enthusiasm. There are three main national holidays. On Martyrs Day, February 21, the nation mourns the students who were killed in a pro-Bangla demonstration in 1952. The fallen protesters are honoured with processions, songs and floral tributes.

Independence Day, March 26, commemorates the birth of their nation. On that day in 1971 the country declared its independence on the eve of the nine-month war with Pakistan. Citizens attend ceremonies at national monuments and participate in cultural and sporting events.

Victory Day, December 16, marks the end of the 1971 war. There are sombre elements to this holiday when ceremonies of remembrance are held. Bangladeshis visit the graves of the war dead. It is also a time of jubilation. Festive decorations appear on public buildings and the theme of freedom is expressed in concerts and other cultural programs.

The large Islamic population celebrates Eid-al-Adha, or feast of the sacrifice, when people wear colourful clothes and men go to the mosques to pray. Everyone visits relatives and gifts are exchanged. Most holidays are based on the cycle of the moon.

Good Friday, Easter, Christmas and Boxing Day are also national holidays in Bangladesh. Bengali New Years Day, called Pohela Boisakh, is a festive occasion in mid-April marked by village fairs, athletic competitions and day-long gatherings in city parks.

Did you know?

Here are a few lines from the National Anthem of Bangladesh.

My Golden Bengal

My Bengal of gold,
I love you
Forever your skies, your air set my heart in tune as if it were a flute
If sadness, oh mother mine, casts a gloom
on your face,
my eyes are filled with tears.